The role of selenium in chronic disease

Nutr Clin Pract. 2008 Apr-May;23(2):152-60. doi: 10.1177/0884533608314532.


Selenium functions as a part of proteins known as selenoproteins. Through these selenoproteins, selenium functions as a defensive mechanism for oxidative stress, for the regulation of thyroid hormone activity, and for the redox status of vitamin C and other molecules. In several of its roles, selenium functions as a dietary antioxidant and thus has been studied for its possible role in chronic diseases. This article reviews recent studies regarding selenium status or supplementation in hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes mellitus. A few studies regarding aging and mortality are also included. What can be ascertained from this current review is that the maintenance of adequate selenium nutriture and, at minimum, the prevention of a deficiency in selenium would be advisable for all individuals. In addition, the indiscriminant use of selenium supplements should be approached with caution until further randomized, controlled trials monitor the effects of such supplementation, especially on a long-term basis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Selenium* / deficiency
  • Selenium* / metabolism
  • Selenium* / pharmacology
  • Selenium* / physiology
  • Selenoproteins / metabolism*


  • Selenoproteins
  • Selenium